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You must:  

  • be an employee (not, for example, an agency worker or self-employed);  
  • have been dismissed;  
  • for most unfair dismissal claims, have two years of continuous service;  
  • submit an Acas Early Conciliation Form; and  
  • complete a Form ET1.  

The first step in any employment tribunal claim is to to through the Acas Early Conciliation process. This first step is compulsory. If you do not take this step in time, you will not be allowed to bring your tribunal claim.  

You will be asked by Acas whether you want to take part in early conciliation to try to resolve your dispute without the need to go to a tribunal. You do not have to take part and neither does your employer. However, if you do decide to take part in conciliation, you may find that your employer would like to compromise the dispute by making a settlement offer that you can then consider with your union rep if you have one. During Acas conciliation, your dealings are with the Acas conciliator with responsibility for your claim – not your employer or your employer’s solicitor.  

Acas’s role is that of an impartial conciliator. It is not to advise you on whether or not any settlement offer by your employer is a good one. If you are in any doubt, you should check with your union rep or solicitor before agreeing to a settlement. Acas settlements, once concluded, cannot be undone.  

You must send the completed Early Conciliation (EC) Notification Form to Acas before the time limit for bringing your claim. Tribunal time limits are very short – usually just three months (less one day) from the act complained of, for example, the dismissal. If you miss the deadline, you are unlikely to be able to bring your claim in the tribunal.  

Acas conciliation is free. It is also confidential. Nothing that is said during Acas conciliation will be known to the judge hearing your case if no settlement is reached.  

If Acas is not able to settle your claim using early conciliation, or if you or your employer decide not to try to settle the claim through Acas, Acas will give you an EC Certificate Number. You need this number to be able to bring your claim.  

The next step is to complete and submit an Employment Tribunal Claim Form, known as Form ET1 before the claim deadline date. If you miss this deadline, you are very unlikely to be allowed to bring your claim.  

You can find details of how to bring a claim, as well as a link to the ET1 form from the government website. You will need your Acas EC Certification Number (see above).  

The deadline for issuing your claim should be treated as if it is set in stone. Extensions of time are rarely granted if the deadline is missed. Paper copies of Form ET1 are also available from Citizens Advice.   

There is no longer a fee to access an employment tribunal.Grievance procedures 

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.
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